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From plot to plate: The rise of city allotments

Public interest in allotments has seen a revival in recent times. As we become a greener nation, the demand for these hideaway gardens has surged. With increasing concerns around the environmental impacts of the food we consume, there’s never been a better time to get planting. By growing our own produce, allotments can help reduce our own carbon footprints.

There is also a growing awareness surrounding the impact that allotment gardening can have on mental health. The horticultural pastime can help to stave off loneliness, and offer people a sense of community and routine. With this in mind, it makes sense why more and more people in UK cities are looking to start their own patch.

In fact, many have turned to gardening and outdoor hobbies over the past year, throughout the enforced lockdowns.

With this form of gardening seeing a renewed popularity, we’ve investigated the current allotment landscape of our UK cities. We’ve used a combination of Ordinance Survey data and Google search volume, to find out which cities have the highest demand for UK allotments, and which have the facilities to cope with an influx of new gardeners. We also submitted FOIs to 100 local councils, to get a steer on just how long waiting lists can be.


The key findings…


The cities with the most allotments

Carlisle has the highest number of allotments per 100k citizens at 66. In West Yorkshire, Wakefield has 35 allotments per 100k people, spread over an impressive 1.3 million square meters of space. London has the most allotments in total at 788, but this works out at just 10 per 100k citizens for the capital, meaning it doesn’t enter the top 10.

Note: we only want to celebrate the positive and purposely have not included data on the bottom 10 locations


Search volume by city

With the towns and cities chasing UK allotments that are in demand, our research also shows where the interest in securing one is the highest.

The table below highlights the monthly Google searches made in 2019, 2020, and 2021. For this year, we’ve looked at searches per 1,000 citizens to take into consideration the varying population sizes.

The average monthly percentage uplift also highlights how much demand has picked up for city allotments over the past couple of years.

Based on population, Norwich ranks the highest when it comes to projected searches for 2021, coming in higher than other cities such as Cambridge, Oxford, and Bristol.

Cambridge saw the biggest spike in search volume, with an increase of 125% between 2019 and 2021.

Oxford and Bristol have shown the most consistency when it comes to their citizens searching for allotments.


English allotments by region

From the Ordinance Survey data we gathered, we can also reveal which English regions are the overall allotment hotspots. Please note that OS data is restricted to England so we were unable to source figures from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The South of England has the most allotment space in the UK, with the Southeast and Southwest coming in first and second place respectively. Up north in Yorkshire & Humber, there are 1,394 allotments in total giving it third place.


Methodology

We used Ordinance survey data to find the number and size of allotments in the UK. For the keyword data, we used Google AdWords to find search volumes of local allotment terms and analysed them year on year. In order to make it a fair comparison, we used average searches from Jan – May. We also submitted FOIs to 100 local councils to get a steer on how long the waiting times can be in the current climate.


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